Following 2 run rule losses in Hoover at the SEC tournament, the mood surrounding the Mississippi State baseball program was shaky. However, as 8,794 fans saw live at Dudy Noble Field, the Bulldogs once again have something to cheer about. After a first pitch home run by Samford, Mississippi State gained the lead and never gave it back en route to an 8-4 victory.
The scoring in Starkville started off with a solo shot by Samford’s Max Pinto on the first pitch of the game. The Bulldogs responded immediately after as Kamren James picked up one of his two RBI’s on the day, grounding in Rowdey Jordan. Mississippi State expanded their lead in the bottom of the 2nd, courtesy of the first Luke Hancock single of the day and an RBI walk by James. The 4-1 lead gave the Dogs a cushion when Samford brought it back to 4-3, but beyond that, the game was not really in question. Forsythe, Tanner and Hancock again all added runs to the Bulldog total, and the Dogs eventually won the contest by a final score of 8-4.
The impressive performance at the plate by Luke Hancock was complimented by an equally impressive performance on the mound by Will Bednar. Bednar pitched 7 innings and gave up three runs, with two of them earned. The Bulldog starter executed his pitches well, and struck out 8 over his body of work. Beyond how crucial that was from an in-game perspective, it was also huge for the Mississippi State bullpen. As mentioned by MSU skipper Chris Lemonis in the post game press conference, the Bulldogs will have a fully available bullpen going into tomorrow night’s game against Virginia Commonwealth. That level of flexibility is paramount, as the Bulldogs will face a team in VCU that plated around 20 runs in their victory over Campbell last night.
Samford now faces elimination when they take on Campbell, with the loser ending their tournament run one night early. The road for both clubs in the loser’s bracket looks tough, but both teams are capable of making some serious noise. The winner’s bracket game tomorrow night at 7 will be an entirely different affair, as MSU faces a run scoring machine in VCU.
We’ve got at least two more days of Baseball left to play in Starkville and we here at Southern Slams are amped to bring you coverage of the entire tournament.